Tag: Documentary

2021, Movies

Taming the Garden (2021, Salomé Jashi)

You know that scene in Fitzcarraldo when Herzog drags a boat over a mountain the rainforest to show the hubris and folly of man? Well, combine that theme with Mega Movers and a really great eye and you have some idea of this amazing documentary about a man buying up the great trees of Georgia …

2021, Movies

Dirty Tricks (2021, Daniel Sivan)

This is an entertaining and fairly even-handed documentary about a bridge cheating scandal back in 2015. It’s a fascinating story reminiscent of that recent poker scandal where the player claimed to be using his intuition and those who accused him claimed he couldn’t be so lucky.

2021, Movies

El Silencio del Topo (2021, Anaïs Taracena)

This is an artfully made documentary about a journalist-turned-government-press-secretary, which reveals a lot of about a terrible time in Guatemala’s history that I just knew nothing about. It’s a little short on context despite the fact that it clearly assumes a lack of knowledge about Guatemalan history, but it is still a fascinating attempt to …

2021, Movies

Dead Man’s Switch: a crypto mystery (2021, Sheona McDonald)

This is a hyper-stylized documentary about Quadriga, at one point Canada’s most popular cryptocurrency exchange. Somehow I completely missed this story as it happened, which is a little weird because I do pay some attention to tech stories and especially scams.

2021, Movies

Jobs for All (2021, Axel Danielson, Maximilien Van Aertryck)

This is a short film which is basically a satire of the idea of “full employment” as a solution to our problems, as opposed to UBI or welfare. It’s not actually a documentary, as it is very much a satire and an advocacy film.

2013, Movies

The Last Pogo Jumps Again (2013, Colin Brunton, Kire Paputts)

This is an exhaustive documentary about the Toronto punk scene in the late 1970s. It is nearly 3 and a half hours long -supposedly cut down form 5 hours – which means that it is probably only for people interested in the scene or in the history of Toronto. But if you’re interested in punk …

2006, Movies

Muffins for Granny (2006, Nadia McLaren)

This is an artsy, dare I say ambitious, documentary about the survivors of Canada’s residential school system which desperately needs a bigger budget and a surer hand to achieve its goals. And that’s unfortunate, because it’s a story that definitely needs to be heard. I hope that someone has made something more successful since. (If …

2007, TV

Long Way Down (2007)

The sequel to Long Way Round is another excellent adventure travel documentary series featuring the same lovable cast of characters (i.e. a movie star, his far less famous friend, a Swiss camera man and some producers). This time they head from the top of Scotland to South Africa. There are similarities to the two series, …

2010, Movies

In the Name of the Family (2010, Shelley Saywell)

This is an episodic and workmanlike documentary about girls killed by their family members, ostensibly because they are not behaving correctly. It feels a little like it was made for TV but that could also just be the budget.

2013, TV

League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis (2013)

This is a thorough, but very Frontline, overview of CTE back in 2013, right when the NFL lawsuit happened. It’s very clear it was mostly assembled beforehand, and then a few additional aspects of the story broke and they were incorporated into it before it aired.

2021, TV

Murder Among the Mormons (2021)

We watch Forensic Files. A lot of Forensic Files. (We’ve seen most of the original series, I would guess. At least a majority.) And they all sort of blend in together after a while. It often takes us a few minutes to realize we’ve seen an episode. Well, it took me well into the second episode of …

2019, TV

Country Music (2019)

This is an engrossing, thorough, occasionally moving and, for its first six episodes, authoritative history of country music. It follows the usual rhythms of a Ken Burns’ documentary, which is something I thoroughly enjoy, and has the usual strengths and weaknesses of his approach to storytelling.

2012, Movies

Coast Modern (2012, Mike Bernard, Gavin Froome)

This is a pretty but quite brief documentary about modernist domestic architecture on the West Coast of North America. If you like The World’s Most Extraordinary Homes or similar shows, you may like this. This is a lot more philosophical, as you might expect, but there are similar amounts of house porn.

2004, 2013, 2018, TV

The Staircase (2004, 2013, 2018)

Full disclosure: I am very biased when it comes to these types of stories. For the number of years I’ve been listening to wrongful conviction podcast called Undisclosed. I have listened to a number of other podcasts with similar themes. So I am more predisposed than ever to side with the defense over the prosecution, …

2010, Movies

Client 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer (2010, Alex Gibney)

This is a fascinating documentary about former New York State Governor Eliot Spitzer’s sex scandal and New York State and American political corruption in general. I must admit I didn’t pay much attention to the scandal at the time – I don’t care much about American gubernatorial politics – and assumed he’d done things a …

2020, Movies

2020 Toronto International Film Festival

For what may be the third year in a row, I only saw 5 movies at TIFF. Every year I resolve to see more the next year but it never seems to happen. Now, this year is different, obviously. This year I watched TIFF films on my couch. And this year I only watched 5 …

2020, Movies

The New Corporation: The Unfortunately Necessary Sequel (2020, Jennifer Abbott, Joel Bakan)

I saw the original Corporation sometime back in the aughts. I have no idea whether or not I would like it now. This film is infuriating, both because of the problems in the world it reminds us of, and because of how unfocused it is. In many ways, it feels like two movies, the sequel …

2020, Movies

76 Days (2020, Weixi Chen, Hao Wu, Anonymous)

This is a harrowing but ultimately kind of triumphant fly-on-the-wall style documentary about COVID-19 patients and the frontline workers looking after them in China. If you are lucky enough to have not gotten sick but feel like this has been really hard, I strongly suggest you watch this movie. (And if you think this whole …

2020, Movies

Enemies of the State (2020, Sonia Kennebeck)

This is a masterful documentary about an American potential whistle-blower accused of child pornography and related charges, who took refuge in Canada. I paid no attention to the story at the time, so the entire thing was new to me. Before I get to the review: if you like documentaries about the nature of truth, …

2019, Movies

Citizen K (2019, Alex Gibney)

This is a mostly excellent documentary about Mikhail Khodorkovsky, the Russian oligarch turned activist and his battle with Vladimir Putin. It’s particularly notable for two things: its attempts to portray Khodorkovsky as a flawed person, and its relative creativity at telling the story.

2016, Movies

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City (2016, Matt Tyrnauer)

I always thought Jane Jacobs was from Toronto. Shows you what I know. This is an interesting documentary specifically about the battles between Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs over roads in New York and more generally about the urban renewal and how to plan cities in general. It’s interesting, informative and thought-provoking. As one of …

2006, Movies

Shut Up & Sing (2006, Barbara Kopple, Cecilia Peck)

Can you imagine being so angry at a band that you drove over their CDs with a tractor? I can’t imagine Jeff Tweedy doing something that will that would make me so angry I would drive over my Wilco CDs or light them on fire. I just can’t relate to it. At all.

2002, Movies, Music

I Am Trying to Break Your Heart (2002, Sam Jones)

As a big fan of Wilco, and Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, it’s crazy it took me this many years to watch this movie. But it’s possible that the intervening years gave me some clarity with it, that I might not have had when I was first falling in love with this band (more than a few …

2020, TV

Killer Inside: The Mind of Aaron Hernandez (2020)

This is a frustrating but also fascinating brief documentary series about Aaron Hernandez the NFL tight end who was convicted of murdering one person, charged with murdering two others, and credibly accused of shooting at least one other person. I paid no attention to this at the time so much of this was new to …